New Delhi: Raising alarm that India was “intensifying” the “repression” of Kashmir’s civil society, an independent UN expert on Friday expressed concern at the second case of terrorist charges against Kashmiri human rights Khurram Parvez last week.
In a statement from Geneva, UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders Mary Lawlor said, “Time and time again, the Government has been called upon to address the fundamental issues with the country’s anti-terrorism framework and its misuse to smear and silence human rights defenders.”
The statement from Lawlor was also endorsed by the UN special rapporteur on freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Clément Nyaletsossi Voule.
Calling for the release of Kashmiri human rights defenders, Lowler said, “The arrest and detention of persons for exercising their human rights are arbitrary. There must be accountability and remedy where such abusive actions are taken.”
Parvez, who has been in custody since 2021, was arrested in a second case by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on March 22. He was charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in an October 2020 NGO terror funding case for allegedly collecting funds from foreign international entities through the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) and then distributing the money for terror activities in Kashmir.
Lawlor asserted that the second case against Parvez was a sign of further crackdown. “Indian authorities appear to be intensifying the long-standing repression of Kashmiri civil society… The State must respect its human rights obligations and be held accountable where it violates them.”
Ahead of Parvez’s second arrest, journalist Irfan Meraj was also taken into custody in the same case.
“The Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) carries out essential work monitoring human rights. Their research and analysis of human rights violations are of huge value, including to international organisations seeking to ensure accountability and non-repetition of abuses,” Lawlor said.
The statement also noted that UN experts have repeatedly pointed out that the UAPA is being used as a “means of coercion against civil society, the media, and human rights defenders in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir”.